CRANE, Ind. - Crane Army Ammunition Activity earned a Merit Status designation in the Voluntary Protection Program following an inspection by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration in September.

The Merit Status marks a first for a Joint Munitions Command site and reflects the overall commitment to employee safety fostered at Crane. In remarks to the Crane workforce, CAAA Commander Col. Charles Kibben said, "...this prestigious award for safety is directly attributed to your personal dedication and hard work to keep our organization safe. From a personal perspective, I am extremely proud to be part of this team."

VPP promotes effective worksite-based safety and health. In the VPP, management, labor, and OSHA establish cooperative relationships at workplaces that have implemented a comprehensive safety and health management system. Approval into VPP is OSHA's official recognition of the outstanding efforts of employers and employees who have achieved exemplary occupational safety and health.

Following feedback from the inspection, CAAA will make further corrections to its program in order to be awarded Star Status after another inspection. Once Crane Army feels it has corrected the noted deficiencies, it will contact OSHA for another inspection. Safety Supervisor Walt Shearin explained that the goal is for CAAA to earn Star Status in fiscal year 2009.

The major way that VPP is affected by the employees is through its employee safety councils. The employee safety councils get ideas from employees, find ways to fix safety issues, assist the Safety Office, investigate safety mishaps, and are the key drivers in helping CAAA achieve VPP Star Status.

According to Kibben, VPP is a natural extension of Crane Army's current culture of safety. He recently challenged employees when he told them, "While our work effort has been tremendous this year, we all need to take a moment to reflect on what needs to be done to improve safety within the organization. The ultimate goal for this organization is to have zero lost time accidents next year and while this objective may seem ambitious, it is something we all need to focus on. One accident that injures any employee on the job or at home is too many from my standpoint and I fully believe the only way to make this place a true safe work environment is through your individual and collective effort."

While every Army command tries to practice safety, it is the hope of Crane Army that by embracing VPP and encouraging the employees to take it on as their responsibility, CAAA will truly have a safety-first culture.

"The major thing that employees should know is that VPP will help them have a safer and cleaner work environment," Marketing Specialist and VPP committee member John Landgraf said. "VPP is a voluntary program that CAAA has decided to achieve. It will help protect employees through more active employee participation. It will also make us a better, more efficient organization."

CAAA was established in Oct. 1977 and is a tenant of the Navy Region Midwest, Naval Support Activity Crane. The Army activity maintains ordnance professionals and infrastructure to receive, store, ship, produce, renovate and demilitarize conventional ammunition, missiles and related components.